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Stephens County is happy to see DOC inmates leave

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DUNCAN, Okla._Not every sheriff is against the idea of losing DOC inmates, one southwest Oklahoma sheriff says he's happy to see state inmates leave his facility.

Sheriff Wayne McKinney says there's no doubt Stephens County will lose a little money now that the majority of his state inmates are gone. McKinney says that load was more a burden than a benefit, now his county jail has not only dodged fines as a result of the mass exodus; it's welcomed higher safety standards back behind bars.

"The state was telling us we had to get this problem fixed but a lot of the problem was over the state inmates that we were having to house in our jail here," explained Sheriff McKinney.

When it came to daily cost, Sheriff McKinney says it just wasn't worth it for Stephens County to hold so many state inmates.

"We've determined that our true cost, what it costs the taxpayer, is $38 a day per inmate. There's no way you can house these inmates on $27 a day. It's pretty simple; we were actually losing money with state inmates that were taking up space," said Sheriff McKinney.

Space. For McKinney, there hasn't been enough of it inside his jail for years. With over 200 inmates crammed inside a building that was built for 162 at one time, he says Stephens County comes first.

"We're not large enough to house 50-60 inmates with the people that are being arrested here, that are awaiting trial and the bad people that we want to keep off the street. We were pretty much being taken advantage of for a while," said Sheriff McKinney.

Just last month, Stephens County was given an ultimatum by the Oklahoma Department of Health, cut the numbers in jail or risk hefty fines. Luckily, these new proposals came just in the nick of time.

"This is kind of a double-edged sword. It's good that it happened, it worked out okay for us. For being overcrowded, this is the only way you can fix it," said Sheriff McKinney.

Now that most of the jail's state prisoners are out, the Stephens County jail sits at a capacity of 119, well under the limit. Sheriff McKinney wasn't completely on board with the new system, he also expressed concern that moving DOC inmates into halfway houses and work centers could cause dangerous criminals to slip through the cracks and offend again.


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